Celebrating the Life of a Tile Artist

When we redid our house, Michael DeMartino was pivotal in pulling it together. As the artist/owner of NW Marble & Tile, Mike was the go-to for all our interior tile work, from foyer to kitchen, living and bathrooms. He passed away suddenly a few weeks ago. He was only 56 and he is missed! His energy enlivened a process that at times was daunting, even for those of us without our hands in cold grout. I think that year’s end is a good time for celebrating life, don’t you?

Mike was an artist-truly exacting in the execution of his craft. I initially worked with a person named Andrea who owned a boutique studio called Tile Spaces. Andrea helped me identify the look and materials I wanted for the different areas of the house. There was no tile in the house when we began. Together, we chose colors and layout but it was Mike who made our ideas work together within a fraction of an inch.

A close friend had frequently cautioned me about choosing tile that was too colorful or distinct a pattern- didn’t I know I might tire of it? Luckily, we had smart professionals to guide us through the process.

Celebrating Life

Look to Italy’s Amalfi coast if you’re inclined to colorize the outside of your house.

Celebrating Life

The Italians indulge in pottery that’s equally as colorful for the home. I’m a huge fan.

Indoor and outdoor masonry are both vital to a home, precisely because they give it permanence. Outdoor masonry is often pretty bland – it has to please the world, right? Not necessarily…

Celebrating Life

Each tile was a slightly different size, which meant that inserting the red hardwood squares was more than tricky. Lance had to cut and number each piece and then seal it on all sides so it wouldn’t degrade next to the tile grout. These men were saints!

One example of Mike’s work that spoke volumes was the floor of our new foyer. It had to be beautiful and practical. This year, as I dragged in cold weather plant refugees, I was newly grateful for the solid ceramic floor that always bears to end-of-season gardener abuse.

It’s essential that a porous, low temperature tile is well sealed. We somewhat foolishly chose an unsealed Mexican tile that Mike treated several times before installing, and we struggle to seal it annually. As with the honed travertine chosen for the bathroom, one has to be willing to do the work of protecting natural materials. Or buy synthetic. Luckily, there are now some good synthetics to consider.

Celebrating Life

Bright orange glass paired with soft natural travertine. If you love it be ready to seal it!

 

Celebrating Life

Red glass and porcelain, a lasting combination.

The tiny guest bath has worked really well- the high quality porcelain tile floor proved a great buy for look and minimal maintenance.

The kitchen was a nod to another whimsical use of fanciful glass from China. I traced an irregular line on the wall to give Mike a guide. Notice how the grout blends. We had many colors to choose from- you want to choose one that will work with the tile, the surrounding wall and the wood color.

Celebrating Life

Everybody needs fancy irregular glass tile in the kitchen, right?

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Life

A cozy living corner.

The fireplace corner used two different tiles from the same family, one to mimic brick on the fake chimney (masking the oil furnace pipe) and a ranchy wall veneer to warm the corner for our pellet “fireplace.” Regardless of whether your house is large or small, open, modern or colonial, always consider the juxtaposition of shapes and colors in making your selection.

Mike DeMartino was an incredible partner in our home remodel. Choosing someone to work with who’s both creative and excellent at his craft is critical for success. Partners look out for one another!

The Sea The Sea is a NY-based Indie folk duo-on tour now. I love this song. It speaks to partnership. You can see them in New Hartford on Saturday-January 6, 2018 -Nights at The Beekley Theater. “I will keep on running. Tell me when we get to the other side.”

Celebrating Life

                                                                  Raspberry Hosta

Paola Pillows are artisanal-inspired from garden to couch. Raspberry Hosta is no exception. She’ll keep your home sunny during the dark days of winter. You can see and buy Raspberry Hosta or family here.

 

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